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Cruises to Cabo San Lucas

3 Awards
Cabo San Lucas (Photo:Sorin Colac/Shutterstock)

About Cabo San Lucas

Cabo San Lucas is an anchor port for all cruises sailing on Mexico's Riviera and Sea of Cortez itineraries, but passengers are a small minority of the tourists who flock there. The heavily Americanized party town serves as one of the most popular beach escapes for Californians and other West Coasters who come here to let loose (spring break festivities are intense and not a proposition for the faint of heart). One of Cabo's major attractions is Cabo Wabo, a cantina owned by rocker Sammy Hagar, most famously of Van Halen. Rocks of a different sort -- El Arco, with its jagged points protruding from the Sea of Cortez, make more impressive photos.

Yet for those passing on the beer-pong tournaments and temporary tattoos, Cabo has a lot to offer. Located at the southern tip of the Baja Peninsula, Cabo San Lucas -- together with its more elegant and much quieter sister town of San Jose del Cabo -- is an ideal spot for adventure-oriented pursuits. If conditions are right, the clear waters make for great snorkeling kayaking, stand-up paddleboarding, parasailing, sailing and Jet Skiing. The Sea of Cortez is among the biologically richest areas in the world, with pods of whales that winter offshore; if you're here in season (late December through late March), a whale-watching trip is a must.

Cabo also has some of the best sportfishing in the world, and it is the quest for marlin that put the town on the map. After World War II and the advent of private planes, Hollywood royalty such as Bing Crosby and John Wayne arrived to fish. In the 1970s, a highway was built to connect California to Baja, and the travel industry began in earnest. Now, it's hard to open a celebrity magazine without seeing photos of A-listers lounging at the six-star resorts that have sprung up in "The Corridor," as the coastal stretch between the two cities is known.

One of the downsides for most cruise travelers: There's no cruise pier, so all ships must anchor and tender passengers to the port. That means you'll need to factor in extra time getting to and from your ship. Even odder is the fact that some ships only stop for half-day visits, which means that actual on-land time can be extremely limited (although excursion providers usually time their tours to meet the needs of cruisers). However, other ships spend two days in Cabo, allowing passengers to stay out until 9 p.m. before the ship maneuvers offshore to open casinos. If you're one of the lucky ones with a longer port time, greater Baja, including daytrips to Todos Santos, are within reach -- but can be expensive to coordinate independently.

  • Why go to Cabo San Lucas?

  • Cabo San Lucas Cruise Port Facilities?

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Ruby Princess
Ship Exterior on Ruby Princess

15 Night
Transcanal CruiseDetails

1,900 Reviews
Leaving:San Francisco
Cruise Line:Princess Cruises
Oct 22, 2023
No prices currently available for this sailing.
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Norwegian Sun
Norwegian Sun

20 Night
Repo - Panama CanalDetails

2,083 Reviews
Leaving:Seattle
Cruise Line:Norwegian Cruise Line
Oct 11, 2022
No prices currently available for this sailing.
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Norwegian Bliss
Norwegian Bliss (Photo: Cruise Critic)

15 Night
Panama Canal - MiamiDetails

1,252 Reviews
Leaving:Miami
Cruise Line:Norwegian Cruise Line
No prices currently available for this sailing.
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Regatta
Regatta

11 Night
Mexico CruiseDetails

383 Reviews
Leaving:Los Angeles
Cruise Line:Oceania Cruises
Apr 20, 2024
No prices currently available for this sailing.
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Virgin Voyages

15 Night
Panama Canal - MiamiDetails

327 Reviews
Leaving:Miami
Cruise Line:Norwegian Cruise Line
Jan 21, 2023
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15 Night
Repo - Panama CanalDetails

327 Reviews
Leaving:Los Angeles
Cruise Line:Norwegian Cruise Line
Feb 24, 2023
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15 Night
Repo - Panama CanalDetails

327 Reviews
Leaving:Los Angeles
Cruise Line:Norwegian Cruise Line
Jan 6, 2023
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7 Night
Mexican Riviera - San DiegoDetails

2,295 Reviews
Leaving:San Diego
Cruise Line:Norwegian Cruise Line
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Cruise Critic Favorite

7 Night
Mexico CruiseDetails

900 Reviews
Leaving:San Diego
Cruise Line:Princess Cruises
No prices currently available for this sailing.
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5 Night
Mexican Riviera - Los AngelesDetails

1,252 Reviews
Leaving:Los Angeles
Cruise Line:Norwegian Cruise Line
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Cruise Critic Favorite

32 Night
South America CruiseDetails

976 Reviews
Leaving:Buenos Aires
Cruise Line:Princess Cruises
No prices currently available for this sailing.
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7 Night
Mexican Riviera CruiseDetails

2,136 Reviews
Leaving:Los Angeles
Cruise Line:Celebrity Cruises
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5 Night
Mexican RivieraDetails

785 Reviews
Leaving:San Diego
Cruise Line:Holland America Line
Dec 17, 2022
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7 Night
Mexican RivieraDetails

785 Reviews
Leaving:San Diego
Cruise Line:Holland America Line
No prices currently available for this sailing.
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5 Night
Mexican Riviera - Los AngelesDetails

327 Reviews
Leaving:Los Angeles
Cruise Line:Norwegian Cruise Line
No prices currently available for this sailing.
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Why go to Cabo San Lucas?

Pros:

Cabo offers plenty of beaches and shops, and whale and sea lion sightings are common

Cons:

This is a tender port that's often crowded with visitors from several ships, as well as local resorts

Bottom Line:

It's fun but also kitschy and commercialized; everyone tries to make a sale

Cabo San Lucas Cruise Port Facilities?

Ships tender in Cabo San Lucas Bay, near El Arco, or Land's End. Up to four ships can anchor offshore and tender passengers (about a 10-minute ride) to the marina, which is a pleasant 15-minute waterfront walk to the heart of Cabo San Lucas.

At the cruise pier end of the marina, you'll find excursion operators, water taxis, Senor Frogs, ATMs, souvenir stands and a Starbucks. Not shy about pursuing cruise ship business, the town is usually wide open at 8 a.m. (you can have breakfast at the marina or even go parasailing that early). The pelicans already are out and about, too.

Good to Know?

Vendors aren't shy in Cabo, and you'll find yourself repeatedly telling people "no gracias" as you stroll the marina or sit on Medano Beach (to avoid vendors on this packed stretch of sand, ask for a table or lounge chair farther back from the beach or buy a hotel beach pass). We also had to make sure that waiters wouldn't bring us drinks we hadn't ordered; check your bill closely before paying.

Getting Around?

By Foot: It's an easy 15-minute walk from the cruise ship pier to the main drag via the well-marked marina.

By Water Taxi: At the cruise pier, you can get a water taxi to take you to Medano Beach for about $10. If you want an up-close view of El Arco, a glass-bottom boat will take you out there, as well as to Pelican Bay, for about $20 for a party of four. Always negotiate your fee in advance.

By Taxi: Although the center of town is reachable by foot, the heat might make a taxi ride easier. Taxis, mostly of the sedan type (as opposed to safari cabs), line up at the marina.

By Car: For explorations beyond the city limits, your best bet is to rent a car; among the agencies with offices in town: National (877-567-3572 or 624-142-2424), Budget (U.S. 800-801-0365 or Mexico 800-002-8343) and Alamo (U.S. 866-365-3530, Mexico 800-821-6522 or 624-143-6060).

Currency & Best Way to Get Money?

ATMs are widely accessible if you want to get Mexican pesos or U.S. dollars, which are accepted everywhere. If you are making an expensive purchase in a shop, you are best off paying with a credit card. Having dollar bills to pay for cab fares and trinkets is helpful.

Language?

Locals speak Spanish but English is also widely spoken, particularly in shops and tourist venues. There's a sizable American expat population, too.


Cabo San Lucas Cruise Reviews
We chose this itinerary so that we could visit with our friends who live in Cabo. We enjoyed our time there immensely. We had been years ago on a cruise but it took on a totally different flavor when experiencing iRead More
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penguins82
I loved the excursions in Cabo, did not really care for Cabo itself as a city. Too many people trying to sell you things and just running up and putting a lizard on your shoulder!Read More
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rblanksta1991
Always enjoy Cabo. Went on Cabo Blue snorkel tour. Highly recommend.Read More
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joanieg1
We certainly enjoyed our time in Cabo. The weather was great. We were a bit thrown because the ship anchors at 0630 and stores do not open till 10 am. We waited around town till they did. So, if you go take a laterRead More
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jokeji11

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